Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theological Studies (MATS)




Leviticus 21:17-23 is a text that discriminates against priests who have one of the twelve blemishes listed, approaching the text with the intent to redeem the text for modern application. An exploration in the role of priests in the ancient Near East will show how the priests were human representations of the deity and many cultures and religions had physical restrictions for the priests similar to Lev 21:17-23. Examining the language of Lev 21:17-23 will show that the restrictions were not merely symbolic but intended to stop blemished priests from approaching the altar. However, they were not statements about the value of the blemished priest nor were they a call for further discrimination. The final chapter surveys other early Jewish literature dealing with restrictions in cultic activity. It will show that the restrictions of Lev 21:17-23 are intended to deter the stare of the people and keep the focus of worship on YHWH.

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